His first words were long awaited. From the opening of the trial, on September 8, the shocking remarks of Salah Abdeslam represented a textbook case (of journalism) for the court chroniclers who transcribe, sometimes live, a historic hearing. After almost six years of silence, the only surviving member of the November 13, 2015 commandos spoke on the first day of the debates.
While the president of the specially composed Paris Assize Court asked him his identity and his profession, the accused wanted “To bear witness that there is no god but Allah”, introduce yourself as “A fighter of the Islamic State” or denounce the prison conditions – “We are treated like dogs”.
The next day, a new act of “ show »Abdeslam. This time, he asks, among other things, if “The victims in Syria will also be able to speak”. While 141 media have been accredited to follow the trial of the deadliest terrorist attacks in France – 130 dead and hundreds injured – how to deal with these statements? It did not even take two days of hearing for some journalists to openly ask the question.
On “a ridge line”
Accustomed to the courts for RTL for several years, already present at the Abdeslam trial in Brussels, Cindy Hubert summed up, in a tweet published on September 9, the dilemma as she sees it. « How to tell the audience and not offer a platform to Salah Abdeslam who never ceases to chain provocations ? she wrote (…) It is up to us to find a crest line to hold these nine months of hearing. »
“The idea is not ‘to talk about it or not to talk about it’, but to talk about it in the right place. Let this not override other facts in the trial which are just as important. »Charlotte Piret, journalist at France Inter
Impossible to ignore the word of the principal of the 14 defendants present, the journalist agrees. « The fact that he spoke on the first day, in and of itself, was an event. Afterwards, if his word multiplies, we will have to sort it out. » But, with the first « bursts of brilliance » of the accused media, she wanted to share her reflection.
« We must not become a transmission belt for our words, she explains. We must not relay absolutely everything, make him a star of the hearing, because there are other defendants and the challenge of this trial is to disentangle the responsibilities of each, but also to make room for the victims. It comes down to doing our job: contextualize, and relay statements when they are important for the debates. »
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